FENWICK ISLAND – Town officials say they are looking into an existing ordinance that could impact commercial parking on residential lots.
Following complaints from residents at an Ad Hoc Parking Committee meeting late last month, Fenwick Island Town Manager Pat Schuchman said the town is currently reviewing an existing ordinance that involves commercial parking in the residential district.
While some businesses have been using residential lots for commercial parking, she said a section of the town’s zoning code could prohibit such actions.
“We’re still doing our research,” she said in an interview last week.
In late April, members of the Ad Hoc Parking Committee met for the first time with a goal of exploring potential parking solutions in town.
During public comments, however, property owner Gary Hunter said he wanted the town to looking into a potential parking issue at 2 W. Houston Street, which adjoins his family’s lot.
“You’re probably aware at 2 W. Houston Street Fenwick Shores hotel is constructing a parking lot for their employees and their guests,” he said. “Our opinion and the opinion of our neighbors is that a commercial parking lot in a neighborhood that is zoned for residential use only is not appropriate.”
Hunter said his family was concerned the use of the lot for commercial parking would bring disruptions.
“We’re all quite concerned about this because of the disruptions it would bring to our neighborhood, possibly lowered property values and we’re concerned about the employees and guests who will use it too because they are going to have to walk two-and-a-half blocks from this residential parking lot to Fenwick Shores and they’ll be walking along Coastal Highway …,” he said.
Georgetown Street resident Ginny Schreppler said she was also had concerns about the property’s use.
“We are proud of our businesses, we want the town to flourish,” she said. “But at the same time what I value about the town is its quietness, its peacefulness, its privacy. You can’t find that anywhere else.”
She continued, “I think when we are making these decisions, it’s paramount that we take all of this into consideration.”
In March, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted to table an ordinance amendment that would prohibit commercial parking on residential property, with the exception of home occupations and professional offices lawfully located on a lot in the residential zone.
During his comments to the committee, Hunter questioned why the ordinance was tabled.
“We’ve communicated with the mayor and the town council members,” he said. “All of them are sympathetic to our concerns, but it seems like they are not going to proceed with this amendment to the town code, which would solve the problem.”
Schuchman told Hunter the town was currently exploring an existing ordinance on parking regulations.
“Our town attorney has advised us that our current ordinance does prohibit parking for commercial use on a residential lot. Parking spaces on a residential lot are required to be incident to the use of the house, which in this case it’s not,” she explained. “We’re in the process of dealing with that in a proper manner, but that’s as much as I can say right now.”
When asked if that information would be communicated to the property owner, Schuchman said it would. However, committee member Scott Mumford – whose family owns Warren’s Station Restaurant and uses a residential lot for employee parking – said it was the first he had heard of it.
“You don’t want to teeter with the rights of private property,” he said. “You know I’m a team player, always have been. But we’ve been doing this for 30 years … This is news to me.”
- Indian Street resident Jo Haring told officials she had no problems with the Mumfords using their residential lot for commercial parking.
“I do not quite understand why some people are concerned about it. We have not seen it as a problem at all,” she said. “Employees park, they leave at a reasonable hour, and there’s been no muss and no fuss.”
She continued, “I know you’re not going to solve the problem here today, but I just want you to know that in our household we have had not had an issue with the Mumfords at all and the parking on their lot.”
In an interview last week, Schuchman said section 10-C of the town’s zoning code limits commercial parking spaces to the same lot with the structure they are intended to serve. The code also states, if approved by the town council, open parking spaces can be located on other lots, which certain provisions in place.
Schuchman said the town was looking into the matter and would be in contact with business owners using residential lots for parking.
When asked what would happen if some sort of agreement couldn’t be reached, she said, “I really don’t know at this point.”
Spiro Buas, developer of the Fenwick Shores property, confirmed this week he had received some correspondence from the town.
However, he did not return requests for comment.